Deaths in custody on the decrease – Mthethwa

The Saps say while perception indicates police brutality is on a rise, facts tell a different story.

The Saps say while perception indicates police brutality is on a rise, facts tell a different story. Picture: GCIS/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Police Service (Saps) on Saturday said while perception indicates police brutality is on a rise, hard facts tell a different story.

The department said recent statistics showed crime by officers was on a decline.

Officials have however conceded that the death of Daveyton man Emidio Marcia (27) in police custody is one of the few cases that make the public lose faith in law enforcement.

Eye witnesses recorded the incident on Tuesday, when Macia was handcuffed to a bench in a marked police van and dragged by the moving vehicle.

It allegedly happened after the taxi driver would not corporate with police officers who wanted him to move his car from, where it had illegally been parked.

Macia died later in hospital.

Spokesperson for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said rogue officials in the police are still in a minority.

Ministerial spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said "If you look at the [Independent Police Investigative Directorate] report, there has been a 10 percent reduction on the number of deaths in police custody.

"So stats alone are not convincing.

"But even if we have one incident (of alleged police brutality) every 24 months, it remains a concern."

Mthethwa's office also slammed members of the media for putting Macia's story so high up in their news agendas, saying the overall work of the force was being ignored.

Mnisi said the media only focused on the negative and often forgot about the good work that a majority of officers do.

"We don't want to come to a point whereby when we announce good work by the police, the media is not there but if there is something negative, it's being portrayed on the front pages (of newspapers) - let's have a balance.

Mnisi added that although the number of disgraced officers was far less than that of successful ones, many of them are working hard.

"There are many men and women who work so hard."

'BLAME POOR GOVERNMENT POLICY'

The Institute for Security Studies says the recent scandals around the police service is a result of poor government policy.

Last week, a woman claimed police officers in a Pretoria police station raped her when she went to go open a case of domestic violence.